Two for­mer South Korean pres­i­den­tial aides held

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

SEOUL: South Korean prose­cu­tors ar­rested two for­mer top pres­i­den­tial aides yes­ter­day in a snow­balling in­flu­en­ceped­dling scan­dal which has seen tens of thou­sands of peo­ple take to the streets to de­mand Pres­i­dent Park Geun-Hye re­sign.

Park’s ap­proval rat­ings have hit a his­toric low of 5% – a record for a sit­ting pres­i­dent – over the scan­dal in­volv­ing her close per­sonal friend Choi Soon-Sil.

Choi has been ar­rested for fraud and also stands ac­cused of med­dling in state af­fairs – in­clud­ing gov­ern­ment ap­point­ments and pol­icy de­ci­sions – de­spite hold­ing no of­fi­cial po­si­tion.

Ahn Jong-beom, a for­mer se­nior ad­viser to Park, was for­mally ar­rested early on Sun­day on charges of abuse of power and at­tempted co­er­cion, the Yon­hap news agency re­ported.

He is sus­pected of help­ing Choi col­lect mil­lions of dol­lars in do­na­tions from con­glom­er­ates to two du­bi­ous non-profit foun­da­tions which Choi set up and al­legedly used for per­sonal gain.

Ahn, who has been in cus­tody since Wed­nes­day af­ter step­ping down late last month, said he would “take re­spon­si­bil­ity for as­sist­ing the pres­i­dent badly”, Yon­hap re­ported.

Prose­cu­tors also ar­rested Jeong Ho- Seong, an­other for­mer pres­i­den­tial aide, over al­le­ga­tions that he leaked clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion.

The 47-year-old Jeong, who was known as Park’s right hand man and has as­sisted her since 1998, is sus­pected of pass­ing pres­i­den­tial speeches and of­fi­cial doc­u­ments to Choi.

Park has been scram­bling to re­store trust in her ad­min­is­tra­tion amid the deep­en­ing cri­sis, reshuf­fling min­is­ters and se­nior ad­vis­ers to bring in fig­ures from out­side her rul­ing Saenuri Party.

In a tele­vised ad­dress on Fri­day, Park agreed to be ques­tioned by prose­cu­tors, and sought to por­tray her­self as an overtrust­ing friend who had let her guard down at a mo­ment of weak­ness.

Her voice chok­ing with emo­tion, Park said she had been liv­ing a “lonely life” as pres­i­dent and had turned to Choi for com­pany and help.

The South Korean me­dia has por­trayed Choi, whose late fa­ther was a shadow re­li­gious leader of a cult-like group called the Church of Eter­nal life and an im­por­tant men­tor to Park, as a Rasputin­like fig­ure who wielded an un­healthy in­flu­ence over the pres­i­dent.

Park has been forced to deny that she fell for a re­li­gious cult. – AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.